Soy and Potassium –
Recently while I was loading my grocery items on the conveyor belt at the supermarket, the cashier was having a conversation with a colleague that went something like this: “My leg muscles are so tight and cramped, what can I take for that?”, the colleague of the cashier then proceeded to tell her to check with a registered dietitian as she saw me standing in line. I gave her a quick rundown of foods that are high in potassium and here’s why: Potassium is a mineral that every muscle in the body needs to work normally. Big leg muscles, small eye muscles and even the heart muscle. Muscles and nerves use potassium to communicate with each other and that’s why it is essential for health. Research also suggests that potassium has a positive impact on blood pressure as well. And even more recently, research suggests that women who eat higher potassium diets have a 10-12% lower association with stroke.
Now that you know why potassium is needed, how much do we really need? When the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans were released, it was noted that there were four nutrients of concern based on data that suggested as Americans we don’t get enough of them. Potassium, calcium, vitamin D and fiber were the four nutrients on the list. Potassium has been a focus because of its health associations and its benefits. The goal for Adequate Intake set by the National Academy of Sciences is 4,700 milligrams per day.
So what is a person to do? Push potassium power foods into your meals. What foods have potassium? Here’s a list of the highest potassium containing foods:
- 1 cup dry-roasted soybeans: 1269 mg
- 1 baked sweet potato: 694 mg
- 1 cup prepared edamame (green soybeans): 676 mg
- 1 baked white potato: 610 mg
- 8 ounces plain yogurt: 531 mg
- Winter squash, cooked, 1/2 cup: 448 mg
- ½ cup canned black soybeans: 443 mg
- Banana: 422 mg
- Milk: 366 mg
- Melon: 365 mg
- ½ cup kidney beans 358 mg
- 6 ounces orange juice: 355 mg
- ½ cu extra firm tofu: 225 mg
- ½ cup soft tofu: 150 mg
Just by taking a look at the list, you can see that soy foods are an excellent source of potassium and there are many options to choose from including dry-roasted soybeans (soy nuts), edamame, canned black soybeans, and tofu. And there are many family-friendly recipes you can try to start incorporating more soy into family mealtimes. Here are a few favorites:
- This Cuban Black Bean Soybean Soup is perfect for a cold winter night. You probably have all the ingredients on hand already – just grab some canned black soybeans at the supermarket on your next shopping trip.
- Everyone’s hungry before dinner is actually served…whip up this hummus recipe using edamame and set out the vegetables. Jade Hummus with Pita Chips can be the perfect appetizer.
- And sweet treats like Henry Ford Chocolate Chip Soynut Cookies are sure to please.
You can find more soy inspired recipes at www.thesoyfoodscouncil.com.
Jen Haugen, RDN, LD is an award-winning dietitian and family nutrition consultant with extensive retail and clinical nutrition experience. Known as the Down-to-Earth Dietitian, Jen specializes in nourishing moms so they can better nourish their families through kitchen-counter cooking schools and modern-day victory gardens. She recently presented her first TEDx talk on “How Moms Can Change the World,” and even more recently transitioned from full-time retail dietitian to part-time school dietitian so she can more fully live her values by spending more time cooking and gardening with her family and working with food companies that value family too. Find her at www.jenhaugen.com and @jenhaugen.
Disclaimer: Prior to changing your diet to include more potassium foods, review your medications and medical history with your physician.